AccessAbility: Our responsibilities – Accessibility Regulations 2018 

From September 2018 the Government introduced the ‘Public Sector Bodies (Website and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018’, through this all ‘public sector websites and mobile apps are required to be accessible to all users, especially those with disabilities’ (Ilona, 2018). However, these regulations do not only apply to the University website but also to content on the Intranet and VLE, which means we all need to be aware of them and understand our responsibility in making the content we upload to these areas accessible. 

You might think that accessible means being able to find or being given access, however, to be considered ‘accessible’ the information contained within learning content needs to be available to all including disabled students. There is a set of standards which outline how to ensure content is technically accessible, these can be complex to understand but there are a couple simple ways check the accessibility of your content using the Microsoft Accessibility Checker and Ally within Course Resources (Blackboard). 

By September 2020 all content on the VLE is expected to be accessible. If it is not, then we need to identify this within a statement made available to all users of the site. The government will expect us to then have a plan to make this content accessible. Although September 2020 might feel like a long time away, we need to start working NOW to make all learning content accessible in time. 

Our responsibilities 

As there are many of us within the institution creating and uploading learning content to our VLE it is the responsibility of ALL staff to create accessible learning content. Doing this supports the University Values and Strategic Framework as well as strategies such as the Learning and Teaching Strategy, Assessment and Feedback Strategy, TEL Strategy and the Digital Practice Baseline, helping to provide an equitable experience for all students. 

To help you prepare for this, CELT will be providing information on areas of accessibility within our blog. Labelled AccessAbility these posts will provide helpful advice and guidance about how to improve the accessibility of learning content and activities. 

You can also find further information about accessibility within the Digital Practice Handbook. 

Author: Laura Hollinshead (Learning Technologist-Curriculum Devt)